Better access to care: Bill 20 is not the answer

Quebec City, March 25, 2015 – The Quebec Medical Association (QMA) and the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) today urged Quebec’s Minister of Health and Social Services to explore alternative care models, which have proven more effective than quotas, to improve Quebecers’ access to health care.

“In the early 2000s the government used subpoenas to force family doctors to cover hospitals. Now it wants to use quotas to get them out.  Where’s the logic?” asked QMA president Dr. Laurent Marcoux.

For the first time ever, the QMA and CMA jointly submitted a brief to the Committee on Health and Social Services of Quebec’s National Assembly as part of the Bill 20 consultation process. This measure reflects the level of concern the bill has raised in the medical profession in Quebec and among the 80,000 physicians the CMA represents nationally.

In their brief, the QMA and CMA make three recommendations:

  • Speed up the process of switching to electronic health records—an indispensable tool in 2015.
  • Reorganize tasks to accord a greater role to other health professionals (nurse practitioners, nurses, administrators and others) by forming care teams that can pool their knowledge and skills to better serve patients.
  • Reconsider Quebec’s near-exclusive reliance on a fee-for-service approach and consider bringing in a form of mixed remuneration that leads towards a population-based responsibility model. Elsewhere in Canada, this approach has contributed significantly to improvements in health care access, particularly on the front line.

The QMA and CMA believe the Quebec government could take inspiration from models of medical service delivery that have proven successful in other provinces. Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, among others, have tackled the problem of inadequate access to family doctors with innovative front-line health care models that have substantially cut family doctor wait times.

“These models were developed through close collaboration and healthy dialogue between governments and physicians. We feel that this collaboration is the key factor in the success of such models, which are designed to improve patient access to care,” noted CMA spokesperson Dr. Pierre Harvey. “The system adopted in Taber, Alberta, for example, focuses on quality of care, not quantity. Bill 20 should have that same focus.”

Dr. Marcoux summarized the position of the two associations: “The QMA and CMA are calling on the Government of Quebec to innovate by working together with doctors to build its own model, one where quality of patient care comes first.”

About the QMA

The Québec Medical Association is made up of close to 10,000 general practitioners, specialists, residents and medical students. Its mission is to bring together members of the Québec medical community in a context that promotes reflection and action in the best interests of the health of Quebecers.

About the CMA

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is the national voice of Canadian physicians. Founded in 1867, the CMA is a voluntary professional organization representing more than 80,000 of Canada’s physicians and comprising 12 provincial and territorial medical associations and 60 national medical organizations. CMA’s mission is helping physicians care for patients. The CMA will be the leader in engaging and serving physicians and be the national voice for the highest standards for health and health care.

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For more information:

Denise Pelletier
Communications Coordinator
Quebec Medical Association
Tel.: 514 866-0660

Dominique Jolicoeur
Communications Officer
Canadian Medical Association
Tel.: 613 731-8610, ext. 2038 – Cell: 613 809-5669